When everyone hears the term 'perfoming-enhancing drugs' they immediately think of Lance Armstrong's recent January interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he confessed to doping. This, along with several other recent stories of professional sports athletes using illegal PED, has many sports loving fans up-in-arms and beginning to doubt some of their favorite sports role models and athletes.
Do performance-enhancing drugs actually improve your performance? Some athletes may appear to achieve physical gains from such drugs, which then allows them to achieve higher success, but what is the ultimate cost? The long-term effects of performance-enhancing drugs haven't been thoroughly studied. So, not only are the unknown risks very scary, but it should be stated that they are illegal and prohibited by most athletic organizations. This being said, PED are a very risky, dangerous, and slippery slope, and one that may cost you your life. Anabolic steroids and Androstenedione are common types of performance-enhancing drugs. The following will describe each one individually and identify some of the risks associated with it.
Some athletes take a form of steroids known as anabolic-androgen steroids or just anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass and strength. The main anabolic steroid hormone produced by your body is testosterone. They can be taken as pills, injections or topical treatments. A particularly dangerous class of anabolic steroids are the so-called designer drugs synthetic steroids that have been illicitly created to be undetectable by current drug tests. They are made specifically for athletes and have no approved medical use. Many athletes take anabolic steroids at doses that are much higher than those prescribed for medical reasons. Anabolic steroids come with serious physical side effects as well:
Men may develop:
- Prominent breasts
- Shrunken testicles
Women may develop:
- A deeper voice
- An enlarged clitoris
- Increased body hair
Both men and women might experience:
- Severe acne
- Liver abnormalities and tumors
- Heart and circulatory problems
- Infections or diseases such as HIV or hepatitis if you're injecting the drugs
Androstenedione (andro) is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. It's a hormone that's normally converted to testosterone and estradiol in both men and women. Andro is available legally only in prescription form, and is a controlled substance. Manufacturers and bodybuilding magazines tout its ability to allow athletes to train harder and recover more quickly.
Side effects of andro in men include:
- Diminished sperm production
- Enlargement of the breasts
In women, side effects include:
- Masculinization, such as deepening of the voice and male-pattern baldness
In both men and women, andro can decrease HDL cholesterol.